This may come as a surprise to fans of popular true-crime podcast Criminal: Host Phoebe Judge is obsessed with Valentine's Day.
Judge, who’s co-produced the often-violent show along with Lauren Spohrer since 2014, looks forward to the day filled with hearts and pink and construction paper each year.
“As a little girl, I handmade valentines and still do,” Judge says. “Though I’m not a crafty person, (February is) the one time of year I’m still buying colored construction paper, and I have a signature Valentine move: Glue (pieces of paper) on the outside like flames.”
This story — and the fact that Judge’s middle name is Valentine, after her mother, Valentine — should help explain why she and Spohrer are going from telling stories about murder, theft and missing children to producing a new show about love that debuts Feb. 14. It’s simply called This Is Love, and the first season will have six weekly episodes. (Don’t worry: They’ll keep making Criminal, too.)
“It’s kind of fitting that we’re putting out a show about love, where not many of (the episodes) are romantic love stories,” says Judge. “For me, Valentine’s Day is a day of 'Love,' capital big L. Love is all around us, (and) not this idea of taking your boyfriend out to steak dinner.”
Some of the atypical love stories in This Is Love? There’s a piece about how a doting dad keeps the memory of his late wife alive. There’s an episode about a woman who swims with a whale who's lost its mother. Another show covers an African American romance novelist who finds success after ignoring a recommendation to make her characters white.
Like Criminal, This Is Love is a careful combination of interviews, music and Judge’s narration that makes for a seamless and satisfying listening experience. But the new show has a different tone: It’s warmer.
“The front end work is the same: finding people we’re excited to spend a lot of time with,” explains Spohrer. “But fact-checking is different: We’re not making sure that we’re giving the listener everything that they could possibly need to understand the nature of a crime, but (we're allowing them to) settle into the contours of someone’s life, which is a different approach.”
Judge adds, “We thought it was a time for stories to make you feel good, I hope (the show elicits) a much quieter reaction and a really personal reaction.”
You know, kind of like the reaction you’d get to handing someone a handmade card with glitter, paper hearts and X’s and O’s.
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